How to Buy App Install Ads on Facebook

Credit: Facebook
Following on from our recent Guide to App Install Advertising on Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter, we thought it would be useful to  go into a little more detail and look at how to buy  app installs on each of these platforms. So first of all we are going to look at Facebook and all you need to know to place your ad for your app on the network that reaches an estimated 1.2 Billion or 82% of mobile users.
Setting up your Facebook Ad Account
First things first. Your app must be available in the Apple App or Google Play store. If you haven’t already you need to set up a Facebook Ad account, which is relatively easy if you follow Facebook’s own guide lines. Simply add in your credit card details and you are pretty much good to go and ready for the next step, which is …
Creating and Installing Your Facebook App
Now comes the techy bit. Just like any other network, you are going to need an SDK, in Facebook Ad’s case it’s referred to as a Facebook App. To set up head over to and click New App, choose your platform and if you have hired a developer he/she will take care of the rest – but they will need to:

  •  Install the Facebook SDK into your app
  • Copy App ID into plist
  • Copy App Name into plist
  • Copy URL types ID into the plist

Screenshot: Once your dashboard is set up and your app is working, approved and ready for business, you are now ready to create your Facebook install ads
FB dashboard_1000


How to Buy App Installs on Facebook?
You should be now able to purchase traffic as a CPI (cost per install) NOT CPC (cost per click). CPCs will allow you to buy traffic through the Facebook app without an SDK but you can’t track the traffic so, you, poor app developer, are clueless as to how many installs are being generated directly from FB, unless you are doing your own independent tracking – not a good idea!
Another point to remember is that CPIs will give you all the information at your fingertips and allow you to adjust your ad campaign in real time to get more installs for  a lower price. But even CPIs are worthless if you don’t measure the real return. The most important thing is to optimize your bottom line profits by measuring the exact ROI (Return On Investment) and Lifetime value. By using an FB Measurement Partner such as you can measure and optimize your app using their data.
CPI on FB goes from $0.50 up to 2$. One thing to note is that Facebook shows both post-click and post-impression installs, as an indirect effect of their branding advertising. Normal display networks show only post-click installs and measure the CPI based on that. As a consequence Facebook CPI is lower (discrepancy between post-click and post-impression is normally around 10%). The type of app is also a factor on pricing, as is great audience targeting or precise interest targeting. Some apps can pinpoint the competitive advantage that Facebook Advertising possess, such as dating, gambling, entertainment and e-commerce, for example.
Facebook Video Ads: You can easily create, measure, and optimize video campaigns on Facebook. Video ads can be created when you create a campaign in the ads create tool, Power Editor, or its API. For advertisers who specifically want to drive video views, they should use the “video views” objective. For advertisers who are interested in maximizing the reach of their videos, Reach and Frequency allow advertisers to purchase guaranteed reach while managing the frequency. Facebook will automatically optimize these ads across devices and across target audiences.
Screenshot: Tell a story using a video in your ad


Tip: Upload videos directly to Facebook instead of linking to an external site, like YouTube.
Facebook Carousel Ads: Recently announced, Facebook’s carousel format is a best practice ad format that provides you with more creative real-estate in News Feed and drives people to your website or mobile app to convert. Ultimately, this advertising opportunity delivers a showcase of up to five images within one ad unit, creating a more immersive experience that leads to greater marketing value.
Screenshot: Currently carousel mobile app ads support only one app, with a minimum number of three images (vs. two on non-app ad carousel ads)
carousel FB


Tip: Facebook recommend that you use at least three objects (ie images) for achieving optimal performance.
Facebook Engagement Ads: Mobile app ads help drive engagement and conversion for your app with ads that take users to a customized location within your app. For example, a travel app can target its existing users with relevant flight deals in an ad with a call to action to ‘Book Now’ for a flight. When the person clicks the ad, they will be sent straight into the app to the flight deal advertised.
Screenshot: For engagement ads the call-to-action plays a very important role
Mobile-App-Ads-Image_ engage


Tip: Optimize your Call-To-Action! For engagement ads the call-to-action plays a very important role: The better the fit, the higher the engagement rate.
Designing Your Ad
Now, you need an ad of course, and once again there is a guide provided by Facebook on how to make ads look their best on a number of different platforms. The first step is clicking the “Create an Ad” button in your Facebook dashboard. Then select “Find potential customers for your business”, of course.
Screenshot: The Ads Create Wizard will guide you through all necessary steps to create an ad. When changing parameters you will be able to preview the result of each setting, for example how your ad will look like
step by step


You may have to employ a little Photoshop wizardry and for mobile app installs you will need to include certain demographics such as:

  • Platform
  • Operating System (OS)
  • Connection
  • Country
  • Age
  • Gender

Next check the boxes in the Interests, Behaviours and Connections area – a bit of research in this area by reading up on best practices from other sites might help, but basically you will want to be looking at:

  • Interests – what people are interested in. If you’re promoting a wine app, finding people that are interested in wine makes sense.
  • Behaviours – how people behave on Facebook and online. Do they spend a lot? What’s their occupation?
  • Connections –  Is you your app installed on their mobile already?

By making the demographic areas completely generic, you’ll reach a bigger audience, but the more focused and smaller your audience, the better your metrics will be assuming you have selected the right factors.
Third Party Platforms
The Facebook  platform allows mobile app developers and app marketers to choose from a selection of PMDs (Preferred Marketing Developers) who offer the ability to buy app install ads that will appear on Facebook using a third party tool. App installs ads need careful tracking and most PMDs offer data reporting as part of their services and analytics capabilities which can help to identify high LTV (lifetime value) users. Where a PMD can really be helpful is in managing increasingly complexity. For app or game publishers or agencies running multiple campaigns keeping organised is vital in order to maintain ROI.
Here’s a selection and brief resume of some of the top third party tools and platforms – to discover more on PMDs and the services they offer see our article from earlier this year: 7 Ways to Buy Facebook App Install Ads.

  • AdParlor is one of the largest Ads API partners on the Facebook PMD platform. Check them out for a free trial, self-service, real-time bid optimisation, range of service levels.
  • Bidalgo is a company that focuses on delivering high ROI results for their clients. Check them out for real-time bidding, A/B testing.
  • Ampush offers fully-managed advertising solutions for app developers and app marketers. Check them out for custom reporting, 24/7 optimisation, in-feed advertising.
  • Nanigans is a well established company in this field. Check them out for predictive optimisation, real-time reporting, post-install automation.

The Budget
Things to consider on Facebook are to optimize for Mobile App CPI Installs and run ads all the time – but remember when you set your spend do not leave it checked to “run forever”  unless you want a big Facebook invoice!
The best advice is to initially set your budget relatively low for the first week while Facebook’s algorithm gets used to your app. It will also take time for installs to come through while the data on users etc is being collected. For more on what Ad Sets are, check out this article from Facebook.
Screenshot: Monetize Your App and Maximize Ad Revenue
FB monetize


With Facebook commanding 18% of the total time users spend on mobile, on its app, FB is the biggest publisher. However, the more you want to spend, the more different campaigns you need to initiate in order to keep the performance of your app at a respectable level.
Finally, once you have written your ad copy and are happy with your design and visuals and written a punchy headline, description and call to action button. You are Go!  So click the Place Order button on the page and wait for you beautifully crafted app install ad to work its magic.
So that’s our guide to buying app install ads on Facebook – hopefully it’s provided some useful tips and you can find out more about other platforms in our forthcoming coverage of Google Adwords, Twitter, YouTube, so stay tuned!